Oct. 12, 2012
HEAD COACH Todd Graham
On the halftime adjustments:
"Really what we had to do was just settle down and do what we were coached to do. We had more freelancing and things like that we just hadn't had and it just renders you powerless, if you are not doing what you are coached to do. It was probably some distraction with our guys, and you do everything you can to try and keep that from happening, but I was still really proud about they responded. They came out and shut them out 31-0 in the second half and dominated a team that we should dominate. So I was really proud about how they responded. I mean looking at the film there was some individual spectacular performances. Marion Grice was unbelievable. I will tell you what is unbelievable about that though, if you watch the kickoff coverage, he is making tackles on kickoff cover. He has done an outstanding job on punt return and it just says a lot about him - the pride he takes not only in playing running back but also in special teams is really good. I thought we won the special teams, but we missed the first extra point, fumbled the kickoff, so we just need to learn to get down there. We try to fight for yardage and we don't need to. Both fumbles that we had we were trying to get more yardage and that extra little foot is not going to make the difference, so we just need to be smarter about those things. Turning the football over, turning it over a couple times is not good and we need to have zero defects. I was proud of zero penalties in the second half. DJ Foster had a phenomenal performance and I thought Taylor Kelly did a phenomenal job and again a solid job by our line. This was probably the first game we had that you could tell we had some distractions. Up front of the defensive line I thought it was one of the worst games we've had. Obviously, Will Sutton plays outstanding every game but we just had too much freelance. We basically came out the second half with the halftime adjustment to just do what you are coached to and they did and we were very successful. Hopefully we can just learn from that."
On using the screen play
"We have probably run a couple screens a week, but they were trying to do a lot of pressure. Obviously they were doing man free and bring pressure so we are going to take what they are going to give us. Our backs are pretty talented coming out of the backfield. It was really more them running so many screens than us calling them. That is kind of what we do, we take what they give us. I thought Coach Norvell did a great job. We are developing a lot of diversity in our attack. I was very impressed by that. I thought we had a lot of elements to our attack - misdirection, vertical passing game, screen game, run game. I think Cameron Marshall had almost 100 yards and thought he had his best game rushing. I thought we had a lot of diversity in what we are doing and that is what we want."
On what will be said to the team going into an emotional game verse Oregon this week
"This game Thursday night, with the entire nation watching, playing a three-time Pac-12 champion, the number two-ranked team in the country - this is why you practice. We need our fans to pack this stadium and we need that 12th man mentality. I know our students are going to be out there in force and we need them to be at the Devil Walk before the game. We really need that kind of atmosphere, that kind of support and this is what we practice for. This is why we do what we do. I can tell you I spent the entire next week watching these guys, no disrespect to Colorado. I watched them as well, but this is a game that is why you coach, why you play. To have the Blackout right here for our national audience and for all of our recruits, it means the world to us to have all of that support. This is why we really need every person in those stands, for our football team, to create an atmosphere here that gives an opportunity to do something great and those fans are a very significant part of it. We found that out at Missouri. How difficult it was and how the fans can be the difference in that game. I know our fans and we really need there support. Game of the week, ESPN, and obviously we know we are playing one of or in my opinion, the best team in the country. We are excited for the opportunity."
On whether Oregon was one of the distractions that affected the team last week
"This is definitely one of the games people ask them about, but more than that, anytime you go into a game and the other teams record is not very good and people say they are not very good - they play in the Pac-12 conference and they can beat you. They played very emotionally. They had a couple bad things happen but the thing that we showed in that game was maturity. We didn't panic and we came back in. My halftime speech was just forget about the first half, settle down, and do what we are coached to do. I think they probably were distracted but that is the thing this week: play our best game. We have a good football team and we don't need to be overly emotional about any game and that is the thing we are pointing to. Our guys are highly motivated and the key to winning this game on Thursday is our preparation and will we execute this system that is made for our guys. That is what I have told them that this system is designed for you and you render us powerless if you won't run it."
On the mishaps from special teams
"The turnover on the kickoff return we just can't have it happen. Jamal Miles was trying to get more yards. Obviously there were a lot of positive things - breaking that kickoff return was huge, I thought our kickoff cover with Alex was good. Here is a guy, Alex Garoutte who is fighting for his job. We actually give him more of the start and let him go in and make the first extra point and do what he does, he is always the first guy running down on our kickoff cover. He made tackles on kickoff cover and was unbelievable kicking the ball. He got his opportunity to go back in there and made every kick that he attempted, so that to me is what a team guy is all about. I thought we played well in special teams other than the mistake of turning the football over and the botched extra point. We shanked a punt and those are things we can't do, but our coverage teams were good. Our return game we had one turnover and one huge play and I think that is just what we need to spark us."
On situation regarding the kicker, whether Jon Mora or Alex Garoutte
"We need to have consistency. We don't need to have a kicking controversy in the middle of the season - we just need some consistency there. We have confidence in both those guys. Alex is 100 percent on extra points, so I am all for it he is 100 percent to let him keep being 100 percent. We are probably going to stay with him there and see where we are the rest of the week on who will kick the field goals. Mora did have a nice field goal that he made, but I have a lot of confidence with Alex. We have to score points when we have the opportunity because the games we are coming into now are going to be decided by a point or less, but I do have a lot of confidence in them."
On the importance of his presence at high school football games
"Locally I just want people to know where my priority is. Our priority is to sign all the DJ Foster's out of this Valley we can and all the Jaxon Hood's that we can. It starts here. You build a program from the inside out and that is what is so significant about Thursday. Most important thing is game day atmosphere and this stadium being filled up, Blacked out, national television and for recruiting, that is the number one thing. I think it is all about work ethic in recruiting and just being there and being present saying, `hey you know I'm not just going talk about recruiting this valley I am going to be in there be present and watch these kids play.' I am looking for guys that are having a great senior year, and that fit our program and what we are all about. Obviously, I am going to get on the plane and go other places as well, but our priority is here first and elsewhere second."
On DJ Foster and Marion Grice catching out of the backfield
"They are phenomenal. They are two of the best players I've coached, just doing a tremendous job. Coach Larry Porter is doing a tremendous job with the running backs and that is a unique challenge. We have three very, very dynamic guys in that backfield and we have a lot of snaps, but it is the ability to utilize all three of them the way that we are that is very unique. Those guys are really good. DJ made a phenomenal catch and the bama route that Marion caught was great, and when they touch the ball they are very electrifying and very explosive. Then you take the physicality of how Cameron Marshall is and how he is running. I think he is just now starting to get his stride and it is all dependent on those guys up front. Nobody talks about them but they've done an excellent job. Then we have a quarterback that sure doesn't look like a first-year quarterback."
On the progression of Taylor Kelly thus far
"From the day we started camp, probably day three or four of camp, he took command of it and didn't give us any choice than to have confidence in him. He is just a winner and that is all I can tell you. Obviously the thing that we have got to do in all of our positions - I've talked to Will, I've talked to Taylor, I've talked to Marion, I've talked to Cam - just keep getting better. Every one of us can get better and there are lots things we can do better. Taylor can play better than he is playing. He is playing at a very high level but he is capable of being even better than he is. The whole deal is just managing the game and running the system. I think that both the offensive and defensive staffs have done good job at designing a system that fits us. Just like going into this game, we are not going to come out and have some magical scheme this week. We have an identity of who we are as a football team and you go out and put you best foot forward and go after it. There will be two really good and explosive teams going at it on Thursday so it will be exciting."
On evaluating the film of Oregon
"Obviously they are a great football team. I think they are very sound about what they do defensively. The most improved thing about what they do is they are really a quality defensive team and that is something that Oregon coach Chip Kelly always talks about and how much they have improved in that area. They have dynamic players obviously and there will be a lot of athleticism and explosive people on the field and what we will explain to our guys is that they are the three-time Pac-12 champions and that is all you have to say about Oregon. They have proved it on the field and this is what it is all about. I have a lot of confidence in our team and I know our guys are going to play the best game Thursday."